Category Archives: Audio
[The manuscript of my message for the 2009 Band of Bloggers gathering (theme: “Servants and Stewards”) presented in conjunction with The Gospel Coalition Conference on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at the Rosemont Conference Center in Chicago, IL.]
In the movie National Treasure, the adventure leads to a climactic event in New York City. Nicolas Cage enters an old church building and eventually works his way to the basement and finds the church crypt, a secret entrance into an underground maze of stairwells and hidden doors. Eventually Cage enters a huge dark room and with his torch he lights the tray of oil that slowly illuminates the entire room, revealing billions of dollars of treasured artifacts. You know the story.
This is an image that comes to mind when I think about blog stewardship. The surface of the blog world is a busy place—much like the NYC pavement. Yet, buried under our feet—in the church basement—are neglected spiritual riches.
Bringing up spiritual gold from the basement and into the blogosphere is my primary role in the blog world. I am a blog steward.
I thought of different ways to talk about blog stewardship and I think our brief time will be best spent providing you with a six brief examples from my experience.
1. Puritan literature. As I have grown in the faith, I have grown in my appreciation for the Puritans. They display skill in connecting doctrine to the heart. They are rich both theologically and experientially. I started my blog “The Shepherd’s Scrapbook” (this one) to share various quotes from the Puritans that I believed were especially relevant to contemporary pastors. This vision soon expanded into recommending books in print by Puritan authors, which expanded into developing what I believe to be an optimal library of Puritan resources in a series called “The Puritan Study.” In the series I tried to explain the different ways an expositor can use printed and electronic Puritan resources in their sermon research. I was seeking to steward Puritan literature.
2. Calvin’s Institutes. Of all the books I owned as a newly converted 22-year old Christian, Calvin’s Institutes was the most intimidating. Yet when I began reading, I began to understand, and the intimidation vanished. It was here that I began learning about revelation, the gospel, and I vividly remember the day I first learned about the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit (testimonium internum Spiritus Sancti). Wow! On my blog I wanted to share what I learned, but more importantly I wanted other readers to read the Institutes for themselves. I wrote blog series under the title “Humble Calvinism”—a title ripped off of the New Attitude slogan, “Humble Orthodoxy.” It was my way of getting others to read Calvin for themselves.
3. Herman Bavinck. About three years ago I was introduced to Herman Bavinck, an 19th and 20th century Dutch theologian. I began reading Bavinck and immediately benefitted. I began to see a unique combination of gifts in Bavinck—he was a very careful biblical scholar, a man committed to biblical authority and exegesis, yet a man who retained a wide knowledge of historical theology and church history, a guy who could think as a systematic theologian and simultaneously as a biblical theologian, and all the while being ethically minded, pastoral, affectionate, and aware of contemporary culture. On top of my personal interest in Bavinck I noticed a perfect storm brewing: (1) In 2008 Bavinck’s 4-volume Reformed Dogmatics were to be fully translated into English, which I knew would fuel further interest in him in the Unites States. (2) And I noticed that Bavinck became a point of unity for reformed Christians of different stripes. Bavinck brought together Dutch Reformed folks, Reformed Baptists, Presbyterians, Reformed Charismatics,* and others. And Bavinck unifies pastors and scholars of all ages. I soon realized that Bavinck was not only a rich source of theology, but he also provided a point of doctrinal harmony among a diversity of reformed Christians. So I started HermanBavinck.org, a blog devoted to collecting all things Bavinck (in the English language).
[Pause. How many of you are right now thinking: “I need to check out this Bavinck guy”? That is the power of blog stewardship. I just used a moment of this presentation to persuade you to read Bavinck without ever saying it. Blog stewards can exert tremendous influence in the blog world.]
4. Local church. When I arrive at church on Sunday to hear God’s Word preached, I am a steward. I am personally accountable before God for the message. I am also accountable for making sure my family understands and applies the message. But as a blog steward I further take upon myself the responsibility to pass along particularly important messages to others. Here is one recent example. Recently my pastor, Joshua Harris, preached a sermon series on the economy titled, “The Good Recession.” The two-part message did not receive much attention online. So I decided to transcribe 5 important sections from the series for my blog readers and provide an outline of the messages (see here). My goal was to encourage others to listen to the messages for themselves, and to provide a link-point for other bloggers. My blog post was a way of stewarding a sermon I heard within the context of my local church.
5. C.J. Mahaney. I am honored to work for my living hero of the faith—C.J. Mahaney. Nobody has taught me more about living a cross-centered life than C.J. On applying the gospel to marriage, parenting, pastoral ministry, C.J. communicates very clearly. But C.J. is not a writer. Armed with a desire to see him communicate more frequently to a broad audience, I now work with him, equipping him to speak to the online blog world. His series on “Biblical Productivity” is one recent example where I played the role of catalyst and scribe—provoking him to articulate his process of time management and then documenting that for all to read. Serving directly for C.J. is a unique opportunity, a humbling and valued opportunity to serve the blog world as a steward. Are there men around you whom you could serve?
6. Books. I love books. I love to read books, collect books, and I enjoy promoting my favorite books. And I discovered a quick and effective way to promote good books. Using a digital SLR camera, a wide-angle lens, and a homemade light box I began photographing books—which, I found, was more effective than quoting excerpts and giving my opinions through a lengthy review. If I want to promote a book, I photograph it, and those photographs—uploaded to Flickr—become viral, appearing in magazines, book catalogs, websites, and blogs. Photography has become a fun means of stewarding important resources (although Tim Challies has publically poked fun at this). My unboxing of the ESV Study Bible is one recent example.
As you can see, serving as a blog steward can take different shapes. What does not change is that the blog steward uses his blogging skill and influence to pass along the valuable teaching of others.
FIRST STEPS TO BLOG STEWARDSHIP…
So you may be asking: Where do I go from here? Three steps.
1. Identify your passions. What do you love to do, love to read, love to talk about? These are your passions. Blog about them.
2. Research. Sink yourself in books, sermons, lectures, websites, blogs, magazines, journals—whatever will educate you about your passions. The deeper you go, the more effective your stewardship. Become a disciplined reader. If you are not a disciplined reader, you will likely not go deep, and you will not blog very long or very well. Discipline yourself and research deeply.
3. Share. In your research, identify content that you find most helpful and share it. Develop creative ways to communicate and share content online. [Undeveloped theme: Cross platform conversions of content].
If you do this well, you will not need to find an audience—they will find you.
Identify your passions, research, and share. This is to contribute as a “blog steward.”
Questions? Thoughts? Please leave them in the comments…
* Wayne Grudem writes that Bavinck is “one of this century’s most brilliant spokesmen for a Reformed theological position” and labels Reformed Dogmatics as “great” [Systematic Theology (IVP 1994) p. 1224].
I was born with a face for radio. And that is the extent of my qualifications for appearing on the airwaves. But this past Saturday Marcus Dahl interviewed me on the radio program “The Pastor’s Study Live” (980 AM KKMS in Minneapolis/St. Paul). During the interview Marcus and a few callers asked me questions on Puritan literature, books, reading, the Blank Bible, and other things. It was fun.
Download the program (27.2 MB) or listen online (39:31) here:
A list of books mentioned in the program:
- Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists by Collin Hansen
- George Whitefield: The Life and Times, Vol. 1 by Arnold Dallimore. It’s in this volume that the story is recounted of Whitefield preaching in a field to 10,000 souls, many of whom were covered in soot from the coal pits (p. 263). The place of the event was in Kingswood, UK not in America (as I wrongly stated in the interview).
- George Whitefield: The Life and Times, Vol. 2 by Arnold Dallimore
- Christ Crucified: Or the Marrow of the Gospel in 72 Sermons on Isaiah 53 by James Durham
- Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall
- Works of Jonathan Edwards (Banner of Truth, 2 volumes)
- Altogether Lovely by Jonathan Edwards
- Charity and It’s Fruits by Jonathan Edwards
- Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards
- Freedom of the Will by Jonathan Edwards
- Heaven, A World of Love by Jonathan Edwards (Pocket Puritan)
- Living Faith by Samuel Ward (Pocket Puritan)
- A Christian Directory by Richard Baxter
- Complete Works of John Bunyan (3 volumes)
- Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
- Everything by Octavius Winslow (many of his books are free online)
Yesterday saxophonist LeRoi Moore died from what appears to have been complications related to his June ATV accident. He was 46. LeRoi could rock the flute like no other. He will be missed.
“There are two options for mankind. There are two options for each and every one of us. We can choose human wisdom or we can choose God’s wisdom – the wisdom of the Cross. But they don’t fit together. They can’t be made compatible. They are incompatible. God’s Cross wisdom contradicts human wisdom. The human race is divided into two groups. That’s how Paul sees all of mankind. It’s not about gender, it’s not about age, it’s not about wealth, it’s not about education, for Paul. No. He says the world is divided right down the middle and the dividing factor is what people think of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Your perspective of that even is the most important thing about you. It’s the defining thing about you. And Paul shows that the wisdom of the world (human wisdom) completely disagrees and contradicts God’s wisdom (the wisdom of the Cross). The Corinthians wanted to mix-and-match human wisdom and Cross wisdom. Paul says, ‘No, it doesn’t work. They contradict.’ No matter what the race or the culture, the message of the Cross is always folly and offense to natural, sinful man. …. This is no small difference of opinion on a minor topic. No. This is absolute contradiction on the central issue.”
Our friends over at 10:31 Sermon Jams are getting ready to launch a new and improved Website next week and with it comes the release of their 4th volume of sermon jams. And they keep getting better! Over the coming days at TSS we’ll be giving you some exclusive access to songs from the new volume.
This first one, War, comes from John Piper’s sermon on Romans 8:10-17 (his ministry will always be equated in my mind with thunder):
“I hear so many Christians murmuring about their imperfections and their failures and their addictions and their short-comings, And I see so little war! ‘Murmur, murmur, murmur… Why am I this way?’ MAKE WAR!”
Ed Welch: “There is a mean streak to authentic self-control. Self-control is not for the timid. When we want to grow in it, not only do we nurture an exuberance for Jesus Christ, we also demand of ourselves a hatred for sin. The only possible attitude toward out-of-control desire is a declaration of all-out war. There is something about war that sharpens the senses. You hear a twig snap or the rustling of leaves and you are in attack mode. Someone coughs and you are ready to pull the trigger. Even after days of little or no sleep, war keeps us vigilant.”
I love sermon jams, the place where sermonic highlight meets background music. Sermon jams are excellent for the gym, excellent for personal devotion, excellent to share with other listeners less likely to listen to entire sermons, and overall just an excellent way to reach the lost and share the faith. Sermon jams are very common online, but few are as well constructed as those produced by 10:31 Sermon Jams. Many of their jams are available online for free download.
My interest was especially peaked when I heard the newest CD release would include a jam of my favorite preacher, Rick Gamache (pastor of Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Bloomington, MN)! No one has more personally and profoundly influenced my life in turning my gaze back to the Cross than Gamache and this sermon jam encapsulates his ministry so beautifully. Have a listen for yourself …
Audio posted with the kind permission of 10:31 Sermon Jams. Special thanks to Bryan Guenther.
Now that all the Sovereign Grace Ministries messages are free, I’m slowly feasting message-by-message in a long and delicious buffet of audio. Today I finally arrived at Dave Harvey’s message from the SGM Leadership Conference this Spring (at the time, I was on the other side of the wall listening to Dever speak on his annual reading schedule).
Harvey, the author of the excellent book When Sinners Say I Do: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage (Shepherd’s Press: 2007), is also an expert church planter and apostolic leader within SGF. This Spring in his session “Watch Your Mission: To Be, or Not to Be, ‘Missional,’” he assessed the strengths and weakness of the missional movement. In part, he argues the MM muddies the Cross-centered focus of the Church and misunderstands the apostolic context of the Great Commission.
Here’s the heart of his outline:
1. What are the Strengths of Missional Churches?
A. Missional Churches Have a Commendable Passion for Evangelism.
B. Missional Churches Have a Laudable Commitment to Engaging Culture.
C. Missional Churches Have a Profitable Impulse for Reexamining Church Tradition.
D. They Also Possess an Admirable Devotion to Social Impact.
2. What are the Weaknesses of Missional Churches?
A. Missional Churches Tend to Be Mission-Centered Rather Than Gospel-Centered.
B. Missional Churches Tend to Have a Reductionistic Ecclesiology.
C. Missional Churches Tend to Confuse Culture Engagement with Cultural Immersion.
D. Missional Churches Tend to Downplay the Institutional and Organizational Nature of the Church.
E. Missional Churches Tend to Have an Insufficient Understanding of Apostolic Ministry.
Update: It should be noted SGM believes in a continuing apostolic gift: “present-day apostles plant and build local churches for the sanctification of the believer, the expansion of the mission, and the exaltation of God.” For more on why they use the term, what it means and does not mean, see the SGM booklet by Harvey titled Polity: Serving and Leading the Local Church (2004), pages 17-26, 49-50.